For music career, thing big but be realistic (June 21 is World Music Day)

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Huge stages, bright lights and high-voltage sound along with a discerning audience – all this is a dream for any musician, especially for the growing Indie music artists. But the journey to the top is not so easy and one needs to think long and deep before embarking on a career in the medium, top musicians say.

It’s a long grind to live performances, concerts and music festivals. So it’s better to plan ahead. Sustenance is the key. It’s best to plan an alternative career that gives one the freedom to dream big – and at the same time helps ends meet, they say.

India’s Parikrama classic rock and fusion band started its journey almost two decades ago when India’s independent music scene was still nascent. Making it a career was not even on the agenda; so forget about planning for the future.

“When we started the band, earning money from it was never on our mind. It was a passion for us and all these years we have been passionately playing our music,” Subir Malik, Parikrama’s keyboard player and the man behind the band, told IANS.

“But it is important to think long-term. When you are young and single it is good to dream about creating music, but one must also not be blind to reality. There is no music happening 365 days a year,” he added.

Hemant Chona, 22, bass guitarist with the Mindflew band, agreed that there are many hurdles in the musical journey and he has seen the insecurities of older artists and what a disbanded band goes through.

He felt it is wise to keep options of an alternate career open.

“Contrary to what you see or read, it is not an easy journey. The initial days or years of struggle can cripple many. I have seen many failed bands with whom I used to dream of playing once,” rued Chona, who is trying to balance his passion for music with graphic designing.

“I am freelancing right now because I am a beginner. If I associate myself with a particular band, the money flow will be difficult. So I play with different bands,” he added.

What gives the artists extreme satisfaction is the fact that the Indian music industry is booming. This has automatically led to the rise of many bands catering to different genres to dabble with, from electronic, rock-and-roll, sufi, fusion and rock to pop.

Music festivals like NH7 Weekender, Sunburn, Storm and the Escape Festival of Art and Music have also given the young and the not so old artists a chance to showcase their talent to a wider audience.

And not to be left behind, pubs and restaurants want to draw more customers by offering live entertainment. In fact, many places have started “sufi nights” and “jazz nights” to increase their footfalls.

For an artist, opportunities are a-plenty – except that they don’t offer too much money initially.

“There are many opportunities for young bands today. They can start with pubs, then concerts, then music festivals – national and international – to avoid financial crunch,” said Ujwal Nagar of Indian fusion band Advaita.

“As you grow older and become better, the money will flow in,” said Nagar, a Hindustani vocalist, adding if a band is good there will always be ways to overcome hiccups.

Narrating his struggle, Rishabh Nath, 26, part of a now-disbanded band, said the musical journey is full of difficulties.

“The first thing is how to get a show. So initially we started attending gigs, meeting people, building a network and meeting musicians who then helped us with a manager,” Nath told IANS.

“Then you meet the middleman. He will ask you to record some songs. Those songs will be sent to the people who decide your fate,” he added.

Beginners can also form a fan page on social networking site Facebook or upload their songs on soundcloud – a platform that enables sound creators to upload, record or share their original music.

The next stage for any artist is to come out with his or her own albums, shelling out anything from Rs. 15,000 to Rs.40,000.

The going is not so easy, although the music industry has really expanded in the past two decades.

“One must not entirely depend on it as a career till one is established. It is important to keep your options open. There is so much uncertainty. Today you might have work, but tomorrow you might have nothing,” Nagar pointed out.

“One should be ready to accept the challenges that come with it,” he added.

However, Malik said, there is no need to be disheartened.

“By making an alternate career choice, I am not saying become an LIC agent. I am trying to say that there are many options available in this field,” Malik suggested.

“At the same time just be flexible. Don’t get stuck if things are not happening. Music doesn’t come with age-limits. Passion can be pursued and ends can be met only if one is open to work hard. If today is not your day, tomorrow will be. So play a wise game,” he added.

In other words, play on and just let the music flow.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at [email protected])

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